Petitions want easier nationality, English as official language

Drop French to make Luxembourg more attractive to outsiders, petition urges Photo: Nader Ghavami

Drop French to make Luxembourg more attractive to outsiders, petition urges Photo: Nader Ghavami

A petition that opened for signature on Tuesday says foreigners should be able to receive Luxembourg nationality without having to pass a language test after ten years of being in the country, while another says English should become an official language.

Under current rules, adults who have lived in the country for at least 20 years can get a Luxembourg passport without taking a language test and without having to attend a civics course.

Applicants must, however, take 24 hours of Luxembourgish lessons.

The petition--which must reach 4,500 signatures to be debated in parliament and with the government--says the threshold should be lowered from 20 years to 10.

The move would help “everyone feel more responsible”, living and working in Luxembourg and contributing to the country’s development, the petition states.

“In my experience, for everyone who obtained their nationality after 20 years of residency in Luxembourg this will not change their standard of living or improve their language,” the author, Riadh Souissi, says.

There are different criteria to obtain Luxembourg nationality, for example depending on whether the applicant is a minor or married to a Luxembourg national.

Most commonly, applicants must have lived in the county for five years, pass a Luxembourg language test and attend a civics course.

A petition to recognise French or German as a language to obtain nationality, instead of Luxembourgish, failed to attract enough signatories earlier this month.

English as an official language

A separate petition, which is also open for signature for the coming weeks, says English should become one of the grand duchy’s official languages.

Luxembourgish is the grand duchy’s national language while French and German are administrative languages.

“Around half of the population doesn’t speak one of the three official languages,” the petition says, without, however, backing up this claim.

Making English an official language would help Luxembourg attract a more talented, international workforce, the petition says.

“Not speaking French remains a major obstacle in business (especially the banking sector) and daily life,” petition author Tolga Saglik says. “French no longer serves the purpose of a common language in the country because English has taken on the task.”

According to a 2018 government study, 98% of the Luxembourg population speaks French, 80% speaks English, 78% speaks German, and 77% speaks Luxembourgish.

A 2019 petition with the same aim--to make English an administrative language--failed, receiving just 1,407 of the required 4,500 signatures.